Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Confession and Grace

I was talking with a friend recently about sin...about looking sin full in the face and calling it what it is.

Without this...without the confession, there can be no redemption.  There can be no grace for our transgressions unless we admit them.

It's easier to make excuses for our sin...hide behind them and claim they are not sin at all, but something else.  We call them personality flaws, the result of too little sleep, the fault of someone else.  After all, the first thing sin always does is blame someone or something else.

I am learning this...and I want this truth to infiltrate the hearts of my children.

I want to take my children to the cross...to the place they can find freedom.  If I allow them to continue to make excuses and hide behind faults...they will forever be caged within a wall of sin they cannot break down with their own strength.

Today...I was blessed to take my youngest there.

I glanced over and she had that look.  You know the one...the one that says, "I just did something and I am really hoping you didn't just see that."

I was busy this morning cleaning the kitchen after breakfast...and I could have just left it alone.  But I couldn't.  I couldn't let her hide behind her sin, lest she fail to find freedom.

"What did you do?"  I asked.

Her reply? "I'm too nervous to tell you."

Oh sweet girl.  How many times I've been too cowardice to admit my own sin...too scared to stare it down and call it what it is.

"Just tell me...you can tell me anything.  You don't need to be afraid."  

Fear not, my child, for I am with you always.

Tears.  "I just can't.  I just can't tell you."

My heart breaks as I leave her on the chair.  I finish my task of cleaning up the kitchen as I cry inwardly.  Please...please let me take you to the cross. Please let me give you grace. Please give me a chance to show you the power of a God who came down.

I come back and sit next to her...and after twenty minutes and a lot of coaxing, out it came.

"Did you eat ice?"

Eyes wide, tears brimming, she nods slowly.  I smile inwardly at a child who feels such remorse for a small transgression.  But I know the feeling...she wasn't sorry she ate the ice. She was remorseful for the disobedience.  Sin.

I look deep into her eyes and speak, "Ice can hurt our teeth...we aren't supposed to eat ice, are we?"  She shakes her head...eyes searching mine.  Then...I take her there.

"I forgive you."  

Her tearful, soulful eyes open wide and reflect relief and adoration.  She throws her arms around my neck and buries her face into me.  Eyes squeezed tight, I hold her as grace washes over both of us.

She doesn't know it. She does know the ground on which she stands right now is holy. She doesn't know that, in this moment, she is being washed in this grace only because her mother, years ago, swam in it.  And that her mother, even now, every day, drinks deep of Living Water and is washed cleaned...again.  She doesn't know that this moment foreshadows all the moments she will need redemption...that this is not the last time she will confess and be restored.  She doesn't know that this grace permeates her mother's heart and leaves her breathless.  She doesn't know the blessing of giving grace back to a daughter after it's been lavished up on her so.

All she knows is that...right now...she's forgiven.

May we all be like this little child.

I wish that, more often, I would fail to see the future transgressions and just live in one moment of grace...that this moment would be enough for now.  That I would ignore the stifling voice that beckons me to remember this isn't the first time I've messed up and it won't be the last.  

That I would breathe deep of the redemption and let it completely cleanse before moving on.

Today this is my prayer.  To receive grace fully and completely.  To acknowledge my sin so I may be redeemed and set free.  To spend my free moments at the foot of the cross and exploring the empty tomb.

And I pray these moments are given back to my children as I take them to the cross, through the empty tomb and straight to the Throne of God.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Moment Redeemed

Tears brim as the clock ticks.  The chaos beckons and I sigh wearily.

In this moment...I'm not thankful for anything.

Truth be told, I want it all to go away. To dissipate into the air I breathe and leave nothing but peace and contentment in its place.

Unfortunately, that's not how it's designed.

I close my eyes and remember.  Remember the truth Ann discovered and shared with the world. I scratched it into my journal and breathed deep of its truth and yet I still forget.  Forget the wonder of the power of a simple word, spoken in the depths of my soul, that brings healing to all moments.

I grit my teeth.  Hard.  My insides scream and I yearn to do anything but give thanks.  My insides all twisted with the heat of frustration, I steady myself.

Then I begin.

As I walk about and put the home back in order...I start naming.  One by one the tormenters of my soul become nourishment by the method of naming. 

46.  Toys to clean up

My heart clenches tight and I almost quit.  I almost quit the thanks for the sake of total abandonment.

Grace washes over me and I begin again.

47.  Laundry to wash

48.  Persistent three-year-old

My breath starts to ease and I feel the beat of my heart slow.  Just a little.  Just enough that I hear it.  The beauty that always cleanses...that of the outside world.  I listen...and a faint smile touches my lips.  I give it a name.

49. Wind rattling the windows

I walk upstairs and am confronted with more to count.  More mess.  More frustration.  I breathe deep and begin again.

50.  Rooms littered with clothes...dolls...stuff...creative play

The floodgates open, they gush forth.  This naming...this opening of the eyes of the soul to that which the Savior puts in our path...the embracing of the ugly as beautiful...the turning of every moment into a reason for praise...it always leads us straight the cross.

51.  Opportunities to serve

52.  Hearts to teach

53.  Souls to nourish

54.  Moments of despair and frustration

55.  The cross

56.  Redemption

57.  An empty tomb

58.  Lessons on patience

I whisper thanks and drop an anchor into time and feel it all slow.  The ticking clock...the heart beating fierce...the elevating lamentation...the quickening falters and I breathe easy.  I am anchored here, to this moment...and the miracle of it all leaves me breathless.

Thanks always precedes the miracle.

I run to my journal of thanks, children and chores pulling me in every direction.

I put the pen to paper and breathe life into my thanksgiving.  Words spoken in our minds are fleeting and, no matter how profound, remain elusive.  When we take the time to etch them onto paper, they are forever etched onto our souls.

The truth is harsh, but real.  It is not difficult to give thanks for the obviously beautiful that stares us full in the face.  The leaf wafting into a ravine as I bike a trail with my family...the crunch of leaves as my children romp in the autumn wind...the tinkling laughter of a small child.

It's this.  This mess that beckons us to joylessness...the trials that either bring us to our knees or bring us to our knees.  The weariness that invades our life and begs acknowledgement.  The pain...the mess...we will take notice of its infiltration.  Will we choose lamentation and complaint...or will we embrace the mess and let it be redeemed by the power of thanks?

Counting.  Searching.  Seeing with new eyes the beauty wrapped in all packages. Right here.  In every moment...there is joy.

Will you take the Joy Dare with me this year?  Count 1000 Gifts in 2012...and watch the miracles unfold.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Living Water

I stare out the window before daybreak, eyes searching for the first hint of light on the horizon.  I contemplate the dream I had last night.

There was a heart…broken in half and filling up with water.  As the water filled up the crevices, it began to overflow profusely.  The water ran faster and spilled out and over the bowl-shaped, half empty heart and into…the soul.

The outpouring of water into a broken heart fills up an empty soul.

This very odd, crazy dream seemed everything but.  It seemed so very real.

As I sit and contemplate, one eye on the horizon and the other on my keyboard, it reminds of the Samaritan woman at the well.

She sits by the source of life…thirsty.  As she works, her mind must have wandered to her life circumstances.  A wandering woman, void of a home.

He comes.

He comes, a Jewish man, shows the Samaritan woman love and reveals Himself to her.

And as He speaks, the river of living water rushes forth and fills her half empty heart.  The heart that has been rotting away for years is healed by a Jewish teacher…sitter by the well…comrade of thieves…Savior of the world.  And her soul is quenched.

I sit, wait for God’s majesty to fill the sky and feel like the Samaritan woman.

My heart is half full…battered and broken as I struggle to thrive in a fallen world.  I sit by the well…thirsty.  It’s quiet and I wait for the glow to fill the sky and cleanse my heart.  Beauty…Jesus manifest.  I wait.

This is where I am made whole.

Before you can be made whole, you must be broken.

The truth pierces the quiet and I flinch.  I know its truth.

Before Jesus could climb out of an empty tomb, He had to hang on the cross.  Bruised. Beaten.  Nailed.  Bloody.  Broken.

Before my soul can become nourished with living water.  Before my heart can be made whole.  Before my I can live a grace-filled life before my children.   I must allow myself to be broken.

This means admitting I don’t have it all together.  This means allowing messes to invade my perfect plan.   It means surviving…thriving…in the chaos that is life.  And allowing my heart to be broken, battered and torn in the process.

Then…and only then…can we truly be made whole.

When we allow our hearts to be broken for the sake of servanthood…for the sake of being transformed...this is the place Jesus dwells.  Waiting to mend us.  Waiting to pour living water into our hearts and watch it spill over into our souls.  In the quiet places of our lives…the torrents of the world gushing through us…this is where we find life.

The sun rises.